GABRIEL BATISTUTA


Gabriel Omar Batistuta (born 1 February 1969), nicknamed Batigol is a former professional footballer. The prolific Argentine striker played most of his club football at Fiorentina in Italy, and he is the ninth top scorer of all time in the Italian Serie A league, with 184 goals in 318 matches. On the international level, he is Argentina's all-time leading goal scorer, with 56 goals in 78 national team matches, and he represented his country at three World Cups. In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the "125 Greatest Living Footballers".

When his club Fiorentina was relegated to Serie B in 1993, Batistuta stayed with the club and helped it return to the top-flight league a year later. A popular sporting figure in Florence, the Fiorentina fans erected a life-size bronze statue of him in 1996, in recognition of his performances for Fiorentina. He never won the Italian league with Fiorentina, but when he moved to Roma in 2000, he finally won the Serie A championship to crown his career in Italy. He played his last professional season in Qatar with Al-Arabi before he retired in 2005.

Biography

Batistuta was born on 1 February 1969, to slaughterhouse worker Omar Batistuta and school secretary Gloria Batistuta, in the town of Avellaneda, province of Santa Fe, Argentina, but grew up in the near city of Reconquista. He has three younger sisters, named Elisa, Alejandra, and Gabriela.

At the age of 16, he met Irina Fernández, his future wife, at her quinceañera, a rite of passage on her 15th birthday. She is reported to have ignored him but five years later, on 28 December 1990, they were married at Saint Roque Church. The couple moved to Florence, Italy, in 1991, and a year later their first son, Thiago, was born. Thanks to good performances in the Italian championship and with the Argentine national team, Batistuta gained fame and respect. He filmed several commercials and was invited onto numerous TV shows, but in spite of this, Batistuta always remained a low-profile family man.

In 1996, during Fiorentina's 2-1 victory at Milan, he celebrated scoring the match's decisive goal by saying Te amo, Irina ('I love you, Irina', to his wife) for the cameras. The mix of sex appeal and faithfulness cemented Batistuta's heart-throb reputation among Argentine and Italian women. In 1997, Batistuta's second son, Lucas, was born, and a third son, Joaquín, followed in 1999. He now has a fourth son Shamel. In 2000, Batistuta and his family moved to Rome, where he played for Roma. Two years after Shamel was born, Batistuta was loaned to Inter. In 2002, after more than 10 years in Italy, the family moved to Qatar where Batistuta had accepted a lucrative celebrity playing contract with a local team, Al-Arabi.

Batistuta ended his career at Al-Arabi, retiring in March 2005, after a series of injuries that prevented him from playing. Soon afterwards he moved to Perth, Australia. In April 2006, the city's established A-league franchise, Perth Glory was put up for sale however Batistuta was not interested in the purchase seeing no real potential in the club
Serious pose by Batistuta

Honours
Club
Fiorentina
* Serie B: 1993-94
* Coppa Italia: 1995-96
* Supercoppa Italiana: 1996

Roma
* Serie A: 2000-01
* Supercoppa Italiana: 2001

National team

Argentina
* Copa América: 1991, 1993
* FIFA Confederations Cup: 1992

Individual
* Copa América Top Scorer: 1991, 1995
* Serie A Top Scorer: 1995
* Serie A Foreign Player of the Year: 1998-1999
* 3rd FIFA World Player of the Year: 1999
* Qatari League Topscorer: 2004
* Arab Leagues Golden Shoe: 2004
* Argentine Player of the Year: 1998
* Fiorentina all-time Top Scorer
* Argentina all-time Top Scorer
* FIFA 100

Personal information
Full name: Gabriel Omar Batistuta
Date of birth: 1 February 1969 (1969-02-01) (age 42)
Place of birth: Reconquista, Argentina
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position: Striker

Youth career

1987–1988 Newell's Old Boys

Senior career*
1988–1989 Newell's Old Boys 16 (9)
1989–1990 River Plate 7 (5)
1990–1991 Boca Juniors 29 (23)
1991–2000 Fiorentina 269 (168)
2000–2003 Roma 60 (30)
2003 → Internazionale (loan) 12 (2)
2003–2005 Al Arabi 21 (29)
Total 414 (246)

National team
1991–2002 Argentina 78 (56)
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